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Priamurye - the fight against the elements and global economic challenges

Returning from the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the governor of the Amur Region had to roll up his sleeves, but not in order to start implementing the agreements concluded in St. Petersburg, but to organize the work of all structures and ensure the safest possible passage of the flood, which affected eight districts.

In an interview with EastRussia, the Governor of the Amur Region Vasily Orlov told how the region is coping with the next flood, and about how the implementation of current projects is going, and about new plans that appeared after SPIEF-21

Priamurye - the fight against the elements and global economic challenges
Photo: the press service of the Government of the Amur Region

- The region, one might say, withstood the onslaught of the next flood. Is the scale of the damage already clear? Can it be assessed proceeding from, alas, already rich accumulated experience in combating the consequences of floods?

- It's still difficult to say about the damage, but the most important task is the safety of people. This is provided. The farm animals were evacuated. The flood is passing - we are drying up, we are paying compensation. We have already begun payments from the regional budget in the amount of 30 thousand rubles for home ownership and 10 thousand for each child. These payments went to Skovorodinsky and Magdagachinsky districts, partly to Shimanovsky, we will expand further. There will also be federal payments, but after the commission has examined the flooded houses.

Of course, previous floods have taught us a lot. Taking into account the experience of 2019, a material reserve was created in advance. Today it is over 500 million rubles. There is everything you need to eliminate and prevent such situations: high-power pumps that allow you to pump water; heat guns, which have already begun to work in the northern territories, are used to dry houses.

In addition, since last year, they began to establish the boundaries of the flooded and flooded zones. The program consists of two stages: the first is to determine the flood zones, this work is underway, and the second is to determine what to do with the people who live in these flood zones. Part of the program has been completed; next year we will complete it in full. The fact is that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, land plots were given out uncontrollably, people were built, then a dacha amnesty, therefore, many households, in principle, were built in places where they should not be built. They are in the flood zone and, as a result, suffer as soon as the water rises.

 - Floods are beginning to be systemic - shouldn't we take systemic measures to minimize damage and not risk human lives? What are the first steps to take?

- I have already told about the determination of the boundaries of flooding - this is one of such measures, but in order to solve the problem with floods, it is necessary to involve science, so that scientists can see how often such floods will recur in our country. For several years we have been regularly drowned with abnormal levels. We are very closely watching what our Chinese colleagues are doing. Although almost all settlements on the Amur coast have good bank protection dams, it did not help, everything is in the water.

After the catastrophic flood in 2013, nine projects were developed to engineer the protection of settlements that were prone to flooding. The total cost of these projects is about nine billion rubles. We have repeatedly appealed to the federal level with a request to allocate appropriate funds, because it is very expensive for the regional budget. Today, the position of the Ministry of Natural Resources is as follows: due to the changed hydrological situation, it is necessary to correct this project documentation. So that the constructed dams are not built in vain and fulfill their function. Therefore, the regional budget provides for another 50 million rubles to correct this project documentation. I spoke with the Minister of Natural Resources and asked that a curator from the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia be attached to us, who will help us make a high-quality terms of reference for the design organization

After the flood of 2019, a number of initiatives were proposed, including legislative ones, in particular, a proposal was put forward for forced evacuation. The law has so far been adopted in the first reading. I hope they will accept it in the second one as well. He is very important to us. Practice shows that people do not fully believe that water will come to the settlement. When they believe, they say “okay, we'll sit on the second floor for a while - the sun is shining”. Then, when the emergency continues, there is no drinking water, there is no possibility of a normal life, people ask them to evacuate. They have to be evacuated in much more difficult conditions - not by buses on a dry road, but by special means, sometimes by helicopters. Therefore, first of all, the law is very important for the safety of the people themselves.

Also, work continues on clearing and dredging river beds, which is a preventive measure to reduce flood damage.

- Well, I would like to think that soon everything will return to its usual course, and it will be possible to concentrate all efforts on solving non-urgent tasks. Here I would like to recall the past St. Petersburg Economic Forum. To paraphrase the saying - a summer day feeds a year, one hour of a forum can feed a region for decades. Before it began, you said that you were guided by the maximum number of new agreements concluded here. Announce the entire list, please!

- The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is indeed an important event in the world of economics and business. The region had a rich program, within the framework of which it was possible to hold many meetings and sign several agreements that determine the further vector of development of many socio-economic spheres.

One of the first to sign a memorandum of cooperation with VEB.RF. The corporation will provide financial support in the implementation of such an interesting, unique international project as the construction of a cable car. This gives confidence in the delivery of the object on time, as we expect, in two years.

A large plan of measures has been agreed with Russian Railways. More than 90 events are planned not only in large cities, but also in small villages located on the main railway lines. This, in particular, the construction of a residential building in the village of Magdagachi, the construction of a therapeutic building in Belogorsk, two FAPs in Gonja and Never, repair and equipping of 12 facilities in Belogorsk, Verkhnezeisk, Dipkun, Erofei Pavlovich, Magdagachi, Mogot, Skovorodin, Shimanovsk, Svobodny ... About 50 events are related to education. This is the construction of schools, educational buildings, a kindergarten, the construction of sports grounds, the repair and equipment of 18 educational facilities.

On the sidelines of the forum, an agreement was also signed between VEB, VTB and ESN Group of Companies on financing a project to create a methanol production facility in Skovorodino. The active phase of construction is planned from 2022.

The agreement with Rossotrudnichestvo will help the Amur Region expand the geography of foreign partners.

For the first time, we signed an agreement with the administration of St. Petersburg. The priorities of interaction between the two regions have been determined: exchange of experience in the implementation of innovations, education, joint projects in the field of culture and tourism. An action plan (roadmap) for 2021-2023 was also signed.

Today we have an agreement with another important strategic investor - the Transneft company. It expires this year, and during a meeting with the company's management, we agreed that at the Eastern Economic Forum in September we will sign a new agreement, calculated until 2025.

- Speaking at the session dedicated to the Far East, you mentioned a relatively new mechanism for supporting investors - the Far Eastern Concession, and said that you expect to be one of the first who will be able to implement this case, what you have, I quote “a certain elaboration”. What kind of elaboration and with whom are we talking?

The DV-concession mechanism is very important and allows in the next few years to implement a fairly wide range of investment projects in the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District and the Arctic, quickly providing residents with the necessary social and engineering infrastructure.

The Amur Region is ready to actively join this support mechanism. We have already prepared and sent to the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East a list of infrastructure projects that can be implemented with the help of the Far East concession.

For example, a project to create a children's clinic in Blagoveshchensk, a MSW landfill in Svobodny and the construction of new treatment facilities in the city of Skovorodino are currently in a high degree of development.

In addition, the list includes transport infrastructure projects, as well as sports and cultural facilities. 

We are in close contact with the Ministry of the East. Now the creation of a special working group for the coordination of Far Eastern concession projects in the regions is in the active stage. It will certainly include representatives of the Amur Region.

- Analyzing the process of investing in the regions of the Far East, Professor of the Higher School of Economics Rostislav Turovsky made the observation that after the implementation of large projects, the regions are very much "squandered". For example, the same Power of Siberia gas pipeline - the project was completed, and Yakutia rolled back in terms of investment indicators, oil and gas projects were curtailed on Sakhalin - the same thing. What do you, as the head of the region, intend to do so that the Amur Region does not become another example?

- I believe that the Amur Region has great potential for attracting investors. We see interest from both Russian large investment companies and international investors.

Currently, the largest investment projects of the country are being implemented in the region - the construction of the Amur gas processing plant of the Gazprom company. By the volume of gas processing, it is the largest plant in Europe and Asia. Amur gas chemical complex of the SIBUR company. In its basic configuration, the plant will produce up to 2,3 million tons of polyethylene and 400 thousand tons of polypropylene annually.

The methanol plant will become one of the largest in Russia, with a production capacity of 1,0 million tons of methanol per year.

The region offers an opportunity for organizing the production of various goods from gas-chemical raw materials, which are widely used in the automotive industry, the production of medical equipment and medicines, cosmetics, food and many other industries.

Ambitious projects are being implemented - the world's first cross-border cable car, which will connect the two states. By 2023, it will connect the cities of Blagoveshchensk - Heihe across the Amur River.

The implementation of this unique project made it possible to attract investors to the creation of a modern tourist infrastructure of the city of Blagoveshchensk - an international hotel and a multifunctional leisure and entertainment complex. The volume of investments is over 8 billion rubles.

It is worth noting the favorable transport and logistics position of the region. These are the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal-Amur Railway, the Chita-Khabarovsk federal highway, the Eastern Siberia - Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline.

This allows you to localize projects with special logistics requirements - in agriculture, forestry, mining and processing of minerals.

The region is an energy surplus region. There are 5 generating stations on our territory. Annual electricity generation exceeds 15 billion kWh. There is a significant reserve of free capacities (840 MW), which makes it possible to build new large energy-intensive industries.

In addition, we have a huge mineral and raw material potential.

Agriculture continues to be a strategic industry for the region. The Amur Region is the main agricultural region of the Far East, 60% of the arable land in the Far East. The main culture of the region is soybeans. We are the main producers in Russia (up to 35% of the total Russian volume). We are developing the industry of deep processing of agricultural products. We produce various types of soy products for the food industry and for the production of feed.

This year we are planning to open the movement of goods. In the forebridge area, a Russian investor is implementing a project to create a multimodal logistics terminal. Investments in the project will amount to 6,8 billion rubles.

Thus, the region itself has a competitive advantage for attracting investment.

The implementation of such capital-intensive projects in the Far East requires state support and the creation of special preferential regimes.

The Amur Region belongs to those regions of the Far East that were among the first to join the creation of such regimes. New residents are registered annually on the territories of the ASEZ. We continue to work on creating another preferential regime - the Free Port of Vladivostok.

The Law "On Investment Activity in the Amur Region" sets forth guarantees and forms of state support provided to investors. In particular, we guarantee investors implementing priority investment projects in the region, in order to ensure their financial stability, guarantees in the form of non-application of laws and other regulatory legal acts to them that change the size of regional taxes, rent for land plots, buildings or structures, the provisions of which lead to an increase in the financial burden on the investor's activities.

Currently, we are working on the implementation of investment projects in the production of liquefied hydrogen, the production of biodegradable polymers and bioethanol, the creation of logistics complexes, the production of nitrogen fertilizers.

- Which of the existing problems of the Amur Region would you call the priority, requiring an urgent solution and investment of voluminous resources?

- The economy of the Amur Region is diversified and is developing in a complex manner, therefore it will not be entirely correct to single out one specific direction. I will focus on the most priority ones.

We are currently paying significant attention to the topic of housing construction. The main task here is to increase the affordability of housing by reducing the cost per square meter. To do this, we adhere to the concept of integrated development. For example, in Blagoveshchensk, 6 promising sites for complex development were identified with a potential of about 1,5 million square meters. m of housing. The largest of them is the Severny microdistrict - 850 thousand square meters. m. Within the framework of SPIEF-2021, we met with the largest Russian developer - PIK Group. We hope that a federal investor will contribute to the solution of this issue. The Far Eastern Mortgage program is being successfully implemented, at the moment more than 1900 Amur families have been able to purchase housing at an ultra-low rate.

One of the main sectors of the economy is agriculture. We stake on an increase in agricultural production and agricultural processing. It is planned to commission new facilities for the production of soy isolate and soybean meal. In livestock farming, a new poultry farm is being put into operation, a pig-breeding complex is being modernized, in the direction of dairy farming, the implementation of 4 projects with a capacity of 33 thousand tons of milk has begun.

Also, our priority is the development of domestic and inbound tourism. We are creating a new tourist space in Blagoveshchensk with the key project “Golden Mile”, all of which are included in the tourist cluster “Vostochny”.

We are ahead of the curve and create a transport infrastructure. A cross-border bridge across the Amur River has already been built, projects for a new customs and logistics terminal, a new international terminal at Blagoveshchensk airport, as well as the world's first cross-border cable car between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe are underway.

We do not bypass the healthcare sector. This year, 26 new feldsher and obstetric stations were commissioned. We continue to purchase ambulances through the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Last year we received 107 new cars, this year we expect 157 more cars.

By September, the overhaul of the surgical building of the Tynda Hospital will be completed. This year, the reconstruction of the Tambov hospital, the Smirnov Zeiskaya hospital and polyclinic No. 2 in Blagoveshchensk will begin. In Blagoveshchensk, it is planned to build another children's polyclinic for 380 visits per shift.

We continue to re-equip schools. 580 million rubles were allocated for this, and another 42 million for the renovation of the Amur Pedagogical College.

Construction of a school for 1 students has begun in Blagoveshchensk at the expense of the regional budget. New schools are also being built in Ekimchan and Svobodny. By the end of next year, more than 500 new places will be created in schools in the region, including the countryside.

Sports and recreation centers in Tambovka and Magdagachi will be commissioned in the near future. And by the end of the year, a second complex on the Zeya embankment is to open in Blagoveshchensk. The school of the Olympic reserve will be based there. Next year a sports complex with an indoor skating rink will open in Tynda.

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